Monday, January 13, 2020

Cultural-ishtianity: What the Church IS

This series of articles entitled, "Cultural-isthtianity," is taking a look at how our culture, particularly here in the west, has influenced how the Church responds to issues of our day and time.  Sadly, the Church continues to bend more and more towards what the culture deems to be acceptable and less and less toward what God's Word says and commands.

In my last article, I spent sometime talking about what the Church is NOT.  Now that we have looked at what the Church is NOT, let’s briefly look at what the Church IS, according to God’s Word.

The word:  "Church"
The English word, “church,” comes from the Greek word, ekklesia, which is a compound word:  ek = out and kaleo = call.  The Church of Jesus Christ is, literally, the “called out” ones, those individuals who have been called out of the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light by God’s grace alone, through their faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.  The “Church,” then, is composed of all those who have believed and received Jesus as their Savior.

The “Local” Church 
The local church is a gathering of those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who are committed to meet regularly for worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer, and who help make disciples of other people in their immediate communities.  The location of their meeting is irrelevant as the Church is composed of people, not the location or building in which they gather.  Some local Churches meet in storefronts, some in church buildings, some in local school auditoriums and some in individual homes.

The “Universal” Church:
The universal church consists of all believers, worldwide, whom Christ has saved from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Though cultures may vary and languages are different, people from around the world who share in their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, are all members of the “universal” Church.  “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).

The Bible uses metaphors to help us understand the uniqueness of the Church.  Let’s, briefly, look at a few of those:

  • The Church, universal, belongs to no one other than Jesus (Matt. 16:18).  
  • The Church is the “body of Christ” and Jesus is the “head” of that body (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:11-12; Eph. 1:22-23).  
  • The Church is “the family (or household) of God” (Rom. 8:15,23; Eph. 1:5; 2:19; Gal. 6:10;    1 Tim. 3:14-15).
  • The Church is “the temple of God” (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 6:19).
  • The Church is “the flock of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
  • The Church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
  • The Church is “the bride of Christ” (Rev. 19:7-10; Eph. 5:22-32).

The Church of Jesus is unlike anything else throughout history.  A person can be part of Jesus’ church regardless of age, gender, nationality, location on the planet or political persuasion.  The Church is both local and universal.  The Church belongs to Jesus and no one else.  Herein lies the problem of church splits.  The words, “It’s not your church!” need to be said to those who would stir up strife and conflict. He is the head of His church and believers make up the body.  At the same time, every true believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the children of God (1 John 3:1) and the flock of God.  As our Great Shepherd, the members of the Church are protected by and provided for by God Himself.  The Church is the protector and declarer of God’s truths, which are found in the Bible.  Lastly, the Church is the Bride of Christ and one day, she will be united with Him for all eternity at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

One final thought:  No true believer can, or should, ever live life in isolation, away from the rest of the body.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see God encouraging that lifestyle.  Believers are to be joined to one another for fellowship, worship, caring, discipleship, evangelism and prayer.  There are some good local churches out there.  Keep searching until you find one that is true to the Scriptures and sees Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

May the Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him by serving others in His Church.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Cultural-ishtianity" ~ What the Church Is NOT

The last article introduced this series of articles that I have called “Cultural-ishtianity.”  As I explained, it is not the Church that has been influencing and changing the culture.  Rather, it is the culture that has been, and is, changing and influencing the Church.  That influence includes what is taught and believed about:  Jesus and His claims regarding who He is and what He’s done; when human life actually begins; homosexuality and transgender lifestyles; marriage and divorce; the role of women in the Church; interpretation of the Bible, and other topics.

Before we look at those specific topics, it would be good to define what the Church is and is not.  Let’s start with what the Church is not.

The true Church of Jesus Christ is not any of the following:
A building or a structure
A social club
A dating pool
A political party
A democracy
A theatrical production
A performance hall or concert
A coffee bar
A Bingo parlor
A business run by a CEO
A denomination
A place to come to in order to “feel good” about yourself or your life choices
A pastor or worship leader
A specific nationality or heritage
A group of identically thinking people
A gathering of perfect people
And, perhaps, most importantly, the Church is not Israel

Is that list of what the church is not surprising?  Nowhere in Scripture will you find the Church of Jesus Christ described or defined by those things.

Whenever a church, of any sort, is founded or built upon any of these things, it is not representative of Jesus’ Church.  The following quote from Dale Partridge sums up what that type of church really is, “In other words, watered-down, oversized, uncommitted, spectator churches are much like a pasture filled with Astroturf—to [the] sheep it looks amazing, but in reality, there’s not much to eat.”

As a result, the sheep are starving.  They hunger for spiritual meat and all they find is milk (or less), therefore, they cannot “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  So they roam from one pasture to another desperately searching for the spiritual food that will nourish their souls.  Sadly, there are not many pastures/churches around where the Word of God is clearly taught with clarity, relevance and applicability.  There are some, but they are very difficult to find.

What, then, is the Church of Jesus Christ if it is not any of the things listed above?

Glad you asked!  I will talk all about that in the next article, so be sure to keep checking back.

May the Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him by serving His Church.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


An Introduction  
Never heard of that word before?  No surprise there.  It’s a word that has been forming in my mind as I have been observing what is happening to the Church (for the last several decades), that Jesus established through His sacrifice on the cross, His teachings and the revelations that He gave to the writers of the New Testament.

The word, “Cultural-ishtianity” captures the essence of the impact that cultures have had upon the true Church.  At the root of the word “cultural” is the word “cult.” And for some churches that is exactly what they have become:  cultish.  Not just the clearly pagan religions, but also some of the well known denominations.  They have elevated a person or their denomination, or their secret rituals as opposed to elevating Jesus Christ.  They have jettisoned their once strongly held biblical beliefs and practices in order to accommodate whatever the culture declares to be “truth,” regardless of whether or not that cultural truth is in agreement with the Scriptures.  Why?  Because they want to stay attractive or relevant to those who are not interested in hearing the truths of the Bible.

Did you notice what’s missing from the second part of the word “Cultural-ishtianity”?  Christ!!  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6).  Yet, how many of today’s preachers/pastors (of various denominations) have compromised that truth in order to be more “tolerant” and accepting of other religions and their beliefs? In an effort to be inclusive they will say, “There are many ways to heaven,” or “We all worship the same God. We just use a different description.”

Yes, this is a strange title for a series of articles.  However, it describes what is happening in the Church of Jesus Christ:  Cultures (especially Western culture) have had, are having, and will continue to have an influence the Jesus’ Church, and how its leaders will either cling to, or discard, God’s holy Word as their sole source of truth.  I really wish that I could have entitled this series:  “Christianity Impacts the Culture(s),” but, sadly, that is not what has been, is now or ever will happen in the future.  As we continue our journey towards the end of the age of grace, and move ever closer to the Rapture and the Great Tribulation, the “Christian Church” will fall further and further away (the apostasy) from the foundations of Biblical truth. How do we know that’s true, because God’s Word tells us that this is going to happen.

As Paul is instructing Timothy, he tells this young pastor why it’s so important for him to “peach the word,”
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).  

The time of not enduring sound doctrine and wanting to have ears tickled came many decades ago and will remain.

It is my hope to present a series of articles that will examine “Cultural-ishtianity” and the various places in which cultures have so influenced the Church that it is extremely difficult to find a local church that holds the Bible in high esteem, or a pastor who uses a literal, grammatical, historical, cultural hermeneutic (method of interpreting God’s Word).  I will be looking at some of the following areas:  Jesus and His claims regarding who He is and what He’s done; when does human life really begin; homosexuality and transgender lifestyles; marriage and divorce; the role of women in the Church; interpretation of the Bible and other topics.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with honoring one’s culture or heritage.  By all means celebrate that: God created all people of every tribe, nation and language.  When I use the word “culture” what I am referring to is the ever-changing morals, values and beliefs that society has adopted that dictate some sense of morality, even if those morals, values and beliefs are completely apart from what God has declared to be true in His Word. 

As you think about this word, “Cultural-ishtianity,” think about how churches have changed, adapted, compromised (in a bad way) and whether or not Jesus is pleased with what His Church looks like today. Or, perhaps, some are not really His church at all.  Food for thought.

May the Lord give you insight, wisdom and discernment as you think about this important issue.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD): Another Unbiblical gospel

It’s not new.  In fact, this terminology has been around since about 2005.  At that time, it was mostly used to describe what teenagers believed about God. Here’s the thing:  its no longer just teens who believe the tenets of this false gospel.  It’s become widespread in churches in Western Culture and around the world.

Here are its five most basic tenets:
  1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Let’s start with the title:
  • “Moralistic” implies that this is a human derived definition of God, not one that comes from the Bible.  Moral values and tenets, which are man-made, are always subjective, meaning what’s right or wrong becomes the decision of every individual, apart from the Biblical absolutes.  In other words, every man/woman becomes a law unto himself/herself with no accountability to God or His Word.
  • “Therapeutic” is a word used to talk about “feelings.”  If something is therapeutic it helps people “feel” better either physically or emotionally about themselves. Again, there is no reference to God’s Word or His commands.  The popularity of this false gospel is founded upon people “feeling” good about themselves as they have created a god who is at their beck and call.
  • “Deism” has been around for a very long time.  In a nutshell, those who agree with this theology basically believe that God created everything and then stepped back and let it run all by itself.  In other words, He is not active in His own creation.  Deism is one of the key beliefs for those who try to blend the truth of God creating all things and the theory of evolution.

Let’s quickly examine these five beliefs of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD):
  1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
o  First:  It is not “a God.” He is THE God, the One and only (see Deut. 4:35; 2 Sam. 7:22; 1 Chron. 17:20; Isaiah 42:8; 45:5-6, 18; and many more passages). 

  1. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
o  While there is truth in this statement, it is not ALL that God wants for humanity.  In fact, it’s not the most important thing.
o  His most important instruction, again, from His Word, is to believe and receive Jesus, the Christ, as your personal Savior in order to be saved from our sins (see Matt. 17:5; Luke 9:35; John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; and many more passages).
o  As far as “other world religions” claiming this statement, it started with God’s explicit instructions.  The other religions have simply adopted it as their own.

  1. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
o   This is NOT a biblical truth.  
o   This is – the ultimate goal of life is living for Christ (Phil 3:8–14), and the ultimate model for life is Christ Himself.  Phil 2:5-11 holds up Christ as the definitive pattern of self-emptying love. 
o   And so is this: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
o   This MTD tenet is all about a self-centered, self-seeking lifestyle, which is the furthest thing from biblical truth and instructions for living the Christian life.

  1. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
o   Really?  God is ALWAYS involved in His creation and the lives of His people and even the lives of unbelievers
o   Read:  Genesis 45:5-8
o   Read:  Job chapters 38-42
o   Read:  Psalm 145:9; 147:8-ff.
o   Read:  Matt. 5:45; 10:29
o   Read:  Acts 14:17; 17:28; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:17
o   Read the Bible!

  1. Good people go to heaven when they die. 
o   This is part of the “Therapeutic” aspects of MTD. It makes people “feel” good.
o   Nowhere in Scripture will you find proof that “Good people go to heaven when they die.”
o   Read:  Romans 3:10-18.  This is the condition of all human beings apart from being born again from above; being regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
o   Read: John 3:16-18; 6:40
o   Read: Acts 10:43; Romans 4:5
o   Read: Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a dangerous heresy!  None of the five major tenets are biblical.  People’s eternal lives are at risk and, yet, this is what’s coming from countless pulpits every Sunday morning.

As a chaplain at a major medical center, I meet with many people throughout the week. I can tell you that MTD is being taught in churches and believed by those sitting in the congregations.  

If you are in a church that puts forth this type of heresy, time to find another church --- one that teaches what God says and not some “feel good about yourself” nonsense.

What would the apostle Paul say about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?  “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

By His Grace,

Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D., D. Min.

Friday, November 23, 2018

"Is She In Heaven?"

This was a family that I had come to know through many visits.  We prayed together at the end of each visit.  During my time with them, we talked about their marriage, their families, their careers, their love for travel, and about the God of the Bible, whom she knew and loved.

It was the second time she had come to be under hospice care.  This time it was different and everyone knew it.  My visits were brief due to the lack of consciousness.  Her husband was always by her side, but he really didn’t want to talk much.  Sometimes I just sat with him.

A new day came and I wondered.  I had arrived shortly after she had died.  Her family was gathered around the bed and tears were flowing freely.  As I entered the room, I remained silent.  They knew who I was and there weren’t any words that needed to be spoken.

After about 3 minutes, her husband turned to me, with tears in his eyes and asked, “Is she in heaven?”  I swallowed hard, fought my own tears and assured him that she most definitely was with her Lord and Savior.

As a Christian chaplain, one of the most difficult situations that I find myself in, is having to come up with an honest, yet, comforting answer, to a sincere question from a loved one.  It happens all too often, especially as I deal with a death.  

Sometimes the person is a known believer, as in the case above.  That makes it a little easier.  There is still the grief that must be gone through (for me as well).  But knowing that that person was a true believer in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, well, that makes it a little easier for everyone involved.

Just because we’re believers doesn’t me we don’t grieve, and grieve hard.  Paul tells us that we will grieve; we should grieve.  Someone whom we loved is no longer here.  Yes, we know what the apostle Paul says about being absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-8).  We are going to grieve; we need to grieve; but not as those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13-18).

The New Testament is filled with the good news of the gospel and the eternal outcome for those who have trusted in Christ (e.g. John 11:25-26).

In Romans 8:38-39, the believer, his/her family and friends are assured that nothing, and no one, can ever separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.  Again, comforting words.  The love of God has made certain that eternal life is for those who are saved by God’s grace, through their faith, in Jesus Christ alone. 

But what of the, clearly, unsaved?  What words do we have for the family and friends that will not betray our Lord, and yet somehow be comforting?  Those are excellent questions, ones that will be addressed in a later article.

The time draweth nigh.  As Dr. Mal Couch would say, “Perhaps today.”

May the Lord bless you as you share the gospel of Jesus, the Savior to a, literally, lost and dying world.

Gary T. Dromi, D.Min., Ph.D. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Death: The Great Equalizer

For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!” (Eccl. 2:16).

God’s Word is truth, absolute truth, and there can be no doubt that what He has said will come about. God has said, “for the wages of sin is death . . . .” (Romans 6:23).

One overwhelming, irrefutable consequence comes to all people:  physical death. It doesn’t matter what your race, creed, religion, gender, skin color, ethnicity, social status, financial status, career, the size of your bank account or retirement preparations, or any other category of human existence.  If you are a human being, you will die, physically.

Death is the great equalizer.

No one escapes it; no one side steps it; no one gets away from it.  God’s Word is truth.

As a chaplain I have been in the room with people, just plain ole people, most of whom I had never met before, nor did I know their status in society.  But on that fateful day, they died, physically, and I was there to witness it.

Either by virtue of being able to talk with them about their faith in Christ (or their lack of it) just prior to their death, or by talking with their families about their loved one’s spiritual condition, I was able to make a knowledgeable guesstimate as to their eternal destination.

There is a stark contrast between the end-of-life behaviors of a believer and his/her family and a person who has (for whatever reason) rejected the gospel truth about Jesus.  For the believers and their families, there is grief, to be sure.  But there is also a hope that tempers that grief. For the unbelievers and their families, there is only gut-wrenching grief and no hope, at all.

The hope of the believers and their families is one of eternal life, a new body (one that will not be subject to attacks by cancer and other maladies), a reunion with those who have gone before them, and an excitement of seeing their Savior, Jesus. There is a longing to be free from the bonds of this world where the consequences of sin are seen every day, everywhere, all around the world.  Most of the time these words are said, “I’m ready to go. I know where I’m going and I’m not afraid.”

For the unbelievers and their families, there is no hope, nothing to look forward to; only sadness, sorrow, regrets, and, often times, inconsolable sorrow.  Sometimes people will ask questions; sometimes they will say, “I’m a spiritual person. I’ll be okay.”  Most of the time, however, there is only silence and tears.  On occasion, anger comes forth at the God they say they don’t believe in.  This is, perhaps, the most difficult situation to be a part of.

Death is the great equalizer.

Here’s the amazing good news:  God, in His mercy, has provided a way to change death’s consequences from passing into judgment and eternal condemnation to forgiveness for sins, justification and reconciliation, eternal life and a new body for the one who believes and receives Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  That’s the second part of Romans 6:23, “. . . . but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It is my hope that you, dear reader, understand the depth of the hope that is ours through faith in Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension.  

Death is the great equalizer. 

It is no respecter of age, gender, job, social status, finances, political affiliation, career, or anything else.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27), therefore, boldly share the gospel with everyone you come into contact with because it matters not what side of the tracks they are from, their eternal destiny is at stake. 

May the Lord bless you as you seek to grow in grace and knowledge.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.

Friday, July 27, 2018

No One Asks for Their Stuff

We continue to live within a world-system that promotes the idea that having more “stuff” is what’s most important.  Having lots of “stuff” is a sign of success, achievement or recognition; you’ve made it to the top; you’ve arrived.  Houses, cars, boats, clothes, electronic gadgets, etc. are all set before us as the answer to filling that empty feeling inside of each one of us.

Companies pay large sums of money to advertising firms to come up with catchy slogans that will identify their products and then stick in the consumers’ memories.  If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves spending more money than we have on “stuff” we don’t need simply because we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced by the advertisers’ slogans and jingles. 

The question, then, is, “How important is our ‘stuff’”?  Does our “stuff” resolve the various conflicts in our lives?  Does our “stuff” improve our relationship with God, spouse, children, friends, co-workers, church family, or neighbors?  Is our “stuff” what we reach for in times of chaos and confusion?  Is our “stuff” able to improve our health, cure the cancer or restore the damaged arteries after a stroke?  Do we own our “stuff” or does our “stuff” own us? 

As one who has been at the bedside of many who are transitioning from life on earth to life in eternity (regardless of their eternal destination), not one person has asked for their “stuff” to be at their bedside.  Not one person has asked for their car, motorcycle, boat, or any thing else to be brought to them as they wait to take their last breath.

Jesus gives us a firm reminder of what’s really important.  In Mark 8:34-38 we read,
If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

What does is profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?  The worth of the immaterial part of a person that lives on into eternity, the soul/spirit, is beyond calculating.  It is, in fact, priceless.  Why?  Because that part of every person will experience one of only two things when it is released at physical death: (1) eternal joy with God in His presence, forever or (2) eternal grief, sorrow, and agony, separated from God, forever.  Eternal means forever and ever and ever. 

God’s Word tells us that, a person dies once and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27),
In other words, there are no second chances, after physical death occurs, for the soul/spirit to be redeemed.  So the admonition is serious, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart,” (Ps. 95:7-ff; Hebrews 3:15).

There are only a few things that most people seek when they are coming to the end of their lives here on earth: (1) Forgiveness from God and those whom they have hurt; (2) peace of mind and heart, (3) to not be alone in their dying moment.

No one asks for their “stuff.”
May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him.
By His Grace,

Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.